CLASSIFIED BY: SCA Richard A. Boucher, Reasons: 1.4 B C AND D Oct 4, 2008
Washington is concerned that the government of Pakistan may release A.Q. Khan. Washington requests Post to please draw from points in para 4, as appropriate, with senior government officials including the Director General of Strategic Plans Division Lt. Gen (retd) Kidwai.
Post should achieve the following objectives:
Inquire about the accuracy of press reports indicating that Dr Khan will soon be released from house arrest.
Express Washington`s strong opposition to the release of Dr Khan and urge the Government of Pakistan to continue holding him under house arrest.
Explain the possible negative consequences that the release of Dr Khan will have on Pakistan`s image in the international community. Note that it would undermine the positive steps Pakistan has taken on nonproliferation.
Urge Pakistan to consider the long-term gains it could garner from the international community by continuing Dr Khan`s current status rather than the short-term domestic political gains that could result from his release.
Recent press reports indicate a plan for Dr Khan`s release was approved for delivery to Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani. We should determine the accuracy of the reports and clearly indicate to the new government, as well as Director General Kidwai, our strong opposition to Khan`s release. Dr Khan was the central figure in the most egregious violation of nonproliferation norms to date and his release would likely indicate to the international community a disregard by Pakistan for the dire threat still posed to international security by Dr Khan`s activities. It could also undermine ongoing prosecution efforts underway in other countries to punish Khan associates and would be a setback to our ongoing bilateral nonproliferation efforts with Pakistan.